Discover how the world’s best tennis player discovered he was lactose and gluten intolerant, and made him transform his lifestyle helping him to become world number one.
With the Australian Open to start on the 16 January, defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic has set his eyes on another Australian Open title. Prior, few years back when Djokovic was not number one, the Serb experienced several mid-match faints that threatened his tennis career.
Dr. Igor Cetojevic, a nutritionist, discovered the problems the Serb was experiencing. During a consultation in Croatia during the 2010 Davis Cup, the nutritionist discovered that the Serb was gluten and lactose intolerant. This was the very reason why Djokovic was experiencing mid-match collapses. This was the turning point of Novak Djokovic career as a change in his diet led him becoming world number one a year later.
Today the Australian Opeb defending champion tells his story in his remarkable book, Serve to Win, as how a change in his diet had become the game changers in his health and tennis career.
Review: Serve to Win by Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic experienced the best ever single season by a single professional tennis player in 2011. He won three Grand Slams, ten titles and forty-three consecutive matches. The greatest question on everyone’s mind was how did go mid-match collapses, breathing difficulties and constant injuries; to world number one in such a short period. The answer was simple: He changed his diet.
In his book, Serve to Win, talks about living in war-torn Serbia and revisits the time he survived the bombing of Belgrade in his home country. He elaborates how he was raised as a child from Serbia to becoming one of the best tennis players ever witnessed in the history of sport.
An individual that has great love and cravings for bread and pasta, as well as pizza – ironically his parents own a pizza restaurant – his body simply cannot process lactose and gluten. With the removal of dairy and especially gluten, even tomatoes (as he has a mild intolerance to tomatoes) for a period of two weeks, Djokovic instantly felt energised, lighter and quicker.
With the elimination of dairy and gluten from his diet his health problems were getting smaller and smaller. He lost those extra kilos, his mental health improved and his physical health improved drastically. A small change in diet has allowed him to achieve the biggest dreams of his life: winning the Wimbledon and being ranked world number.
Depth into Novak Djokovic Lifestyle
The essential part of Djokovic diet is to totally remove gluten, dairy, and sugar (as much as possible) from his diet. His diet consists mainly of vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, nuts, fruits, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils.
Djokovic is very meticulous about what he eats. He prefers organic food and almost every meal he cooks himself. Even when he is on tour, he stays in hotels that will allow him to use their kitchen. What I found astonishing about the Serb, is his eating practices: He takes time to eat his food – you will never see him rush through a meal; and he never watches television, nor uses a tablet, laptop or computer while eating.
Since adopting his new lifestyle Djokovic has become less hot-tempered and less anxious. He is very prompt with his sleeping times. He tries to sleep at the same time every day (am sure this is challenging when on tour and travelling through different time zones), which is around midnight and wakes up by 7am.
A typical day of the world number when not on tour begins with yoga or tai chi. Thereafter he has his breakfast, followed by a training session with a training partner comprising of stretching and sports massage. He has lunch that is free of bad carbs, contains minimal amounts of sugar and low in protein. Thereafter he does weight resistance training followed by a protein drink. He has another exercise session a bit later followed by another massage. Thus completing his physical work for the day.
The Serb has been followed by many other tennis players that prefer to go diets that are gluten-free and dairy-free. Here a typical menu that the greatest tennis world of our generation enjoys:
Glimpse into Novak Djokovic’s Daily Food Intake:
- Breakfast: Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; muesli (including organic gluten-free rolled oats, cranberries, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and almonds)
- Mid-morning snack (if needed): Gluten-free bread or crackers with avocado and tuna
- Lunch: Mixed-greens salad, gluten-free pasta primavera (including rice pasta, summer squash, courgettes, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and optional vegan cheese)
- Mid-afternoon snack: Apple with cashew butter; melon
- Dinner: Kale caesar salad (kale, fennel, quinoa and pine nuts) plus dressing (including anchovies or sardines); minestrone soup; salmon fillets (skin on) with roasted tomatoes and marinade
- Breakfast: Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; banana with cashew butter; fruit
- Mid-morning snack (if needed): Gluten-free toast with almond butter and honey
- Lunch: Mixed-greens salad, spicy soba noodle salad (including gluten-free soba noodles, red bell pepper, rocket, cashews and basil leaves, plus spicy vinaigrette)
- Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit and nut bar; fruit
- Dinner: Tuna nicoise salad (green beans, cannellini beans, rocket, tuna, red pepper, tomatoes and canned chickpeas), tomato soup, roasted tomatoes
- Breakfast: Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; gluten-free oats with cashew butter and bananas; fruit
- Mid-morning snack (if needed): Home-made hummus (including chickpeas and gluten-free soy sauce) with apples/crudités
- Lunch: Mixed-greens salad, gluten-free pasta with power pesto (including rice pasta, walnuts and basil leaves)
- Mid-afternoon snack: Avocado with gluten-free crackers; fruit
- Dinner: Fresh mixed-greens salad with avocado and home-made dressing; carrot and ginger soup; whole lemon-roasted chicken
Djokovic has created a lifestyle that does great wonders to your mind and can change your life in just fourteen days. With great eating tips, weekly menus, easy recipes – this is perfect for those that are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant and even if you are looking to shred those extra kilos. The Serb includes great tips about exercises that eliminate stress and anxiety – the very same one he used prior to a match.
Are you inspired by the lifestyle change of Novak Djokovic? You do not have to be a superstar to change your lifestyle and live a better life. Hope this gives you hope about being gluten and lactose intolerant.
Will you be following the Australian Open and supporting Novak Djokovic? To be honest I am a huge Federer fan, but after reading Serve to Win, Novak Djokovic has been a great inspiration to being positive and living positively with these lifestyle changes.